The Dangers of Counterfeit Makeup ☣

Makeup has been an expensive hobby for many of us. If you recall my post makeup snobs, I spoke about how, as a younger makeup lover, I struggled to find the money to afford the things I loved, though. Now, this isn’t a special case, this is actually a very common occurrence among many men and women who are interested in cosmetics but simply cannot afford it.

For this reason, some people might be tempted to purchase mid and high end makeup brands at deeply discounted prices from unreliable sellers. Remember what we were taught as kids: if something is too good to be true, it probably is. More often than not, finding what you think is an amazing deal on your favorite makeup products could be a very dangerous counterfeit. ABC News reported a heightened number of counterfeit makeup being sold in the Bay Area, but please understand that this market isn’t exclusive to one area of the world. There are lots of counterfeit products on the internet, which make their way to the hands of makeup aficionados worldwide.

Mashable has a great article that outlines the dangers of fake cosmetics from China. The article states, “China’s ecommerce market surpassed the U.S. to become the largest in the world with 2014 with online sales reaching $296 billion.” Many times these fake products are sold on websites like eBay and Craiglist and are offered for a fraction of the original price. This Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit is a good example of a counterfeit product. And remember how much I loved the RiRi ❤️ MAC collection? I found this while looking up some things I missed out on.


Imagine how I flipped out when I saw all these super-fake lipsticks with the packaging of my favorite collection. Worst of all, there is no mention of the products not being authentic. Which isn’t only deceitful but dangerous to potential customers.

The Huffington Post Canada also reported the dangers of counterfeit makeup. The article explains that some of these products were found to contain very disgusting ingredients that are absorbed by our bodies and can easily enter our bloodstream, exposing us to bacterial infections and allergic reactions. Among these ingredients it’s possible to find arsenic, mercury, lead, and even rat droppings. The health risks associated with cheaper makeup are not worth it.


Some of the key elements that differentiate a counterfeit product from a real one are:

  • Packaging: Although the packaging on both products may be similar (sometimes almost identical), there will be a difference in quality. There are specific guides to spotting counterfeit makeup from individual brands, but the consensus is that counterfeit will always look and feel cheaper. The font won’t look uniform, and there may even be misspellings.
  • Ingredients: The ingredients may differ, but often counterfeit items disregard listing ingredients altogether.
  • Smell: MAC lipsticks are famous for their distinct vanilla scent, but if you come across an item you believe is fake, and there is any foul odor coming from it, please get rid of it immediately. The chemicals in these products can penetrate the pores and cause health risks. That is a red flag.
  • Price: If you notice a very alarming difference in price, chances are the product is fake. However, this isn’t always the case, as there are people who sell things they don’t need for a lower price, and some counterfeit items are actually not even that discounted. Knockoff products are often sold in bulk though, so be careful when you find a case of Dior mascaras at drugstore prices.
  • Quality: Understand that many of our favorite brands cost more than we’d like because they are offering products that are of great quality. The formula of the Urban Decay Naked palettes is unlike any other, the wear-time of MAC lipsticks exceeds many of its competitors, and the Anastasia Contour Kit is pigmented and designed to go on smoothly. These are the reasons why the products are priced the way they are. A $5 MAC lipstick will certainly not have the same coverage as an authentic one. Knockoffs tend to be chalkier and have a thinner consistency than the real deal.

Thankfully, authorities are starting to take notice of the dangers associated with the counterfeit cosmetics industry. Cosmopolitan reported that a Florida woman, who made nearly a million dollars selling fake MAC makeup, was arrested and sentenced to time in prison. This even prompted MAC to release a statement in which they stated:

We would like to explain that our products are distributed for sale only at our authorized retail store accounts (including certain direct TV sales), free-standing stores, and e-commerce sites. Products sold to our authorized accounts are genuine M.A.C. If a retailer is not one of our accounts, we have no control over the merchandise that they sell. Further, we have no way of knowing how they obtained our products. Therefore, we are unable to assume responsibility for unauthorized representation of our product.

There’s a great reddit thread that shows side-by-side comparisons of how similar a counterfeit ABH lipstick and a real one are. But my advice would be to listen to MAC and shop your favorite brands only from their own websites and authorized retailers. If you prefer to do your shopping in person, stick to stores with a reputable long-standing history. Such as Ulta, Sephora, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and so on. Avoid buying makeup from thrift stores, flea markets, and street vendors. If you’re not in the financial position to spend too much money on makeup, stick to drugstore and affordable indie brands (like ColourpopMakeup Geek, and Morphe), which offer amazing makeup at attractive prices.

I urge you to take precaution with what you put on your face and body, as there are many bacterial diseases going around that can potentially harm you. Please share this information with as many people as you can, and help shed some light on this very serious issue, so we can continue enjoying makeup as it was intended to. If you have any questions in regards to the authenticity of an item, do not hesitate to ask me. Feel free to tweet, Instagram, email, or ask me in the comments section below.




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